Friday, September 24, 2010
Nighthawks Give Omaha a Game Worthy of the Buildup
So what were my impressions of the UFL? It was a little ragged early on, but you can tell this these are some quality players on the field. You also see little things that keep talented players out of the NFL. Omaha's first touchdown drive of the fourth quarter was kept alive by two personal foul penalties that, quite frankly, might have been homer calls. A late hit on Ferguson turned a fourth down incompletion into a first down; shouldn't that dead ball penalty be enforced after the change of possession? A few plays later, a somewhat generous roughing the passer penalty negated a Jeff Garcia interception deep in Hartford territory and set up a touchdown that pulled the Nighthawks within three.
With the Nighthawks, both lines seem to be the weakest links on the team. Most of the evening, Ahman Green and Garcia were under pressure in their own backfield. Ferguson had the winning catch, but the offensive player of the game to me was wide receiver Devard Darling, a former third round draft pick out of Washington State. He seemed to be the clutch receiver that Garcia looked for most often in the first fifty minutes. Hartford quarterback Josh McCown was pretty much unstoppable, though for some reason, Hartford periodically brought in Ryan Perrilloux, who seemed to be the less effective of the two. Other than former Oklahoma defensive tackle Dusty Dvoracek, I didn't see much out of the Omaha defense.
As for the atmosphere, things really started to roll in the fourth quarter as the crowd and the Nighthawks both picked up the action. The field at Rosenblatt really seemed to take a beating, necessitating frequent visits from the grounds crew to tamp the sod back into place during most every time out. I was pleasantly surprised by the sightlines from my "end zone" seats along the third base line. I didn't much care for the music between plays, not to mention the halftime concert by Nelly. I estimate about 8,000-10,000 of the crowd absolutely loved the halftime concert, with a few hundred forgoing the game in the second quarter to head out to center field in front of the stage. The majority of the crowd could be described as disinterested at best. Otis Day will be next weekends's halftime act, which probably will both annoy and please fewer people. (Why do I have this feeling that people are going to show up in black toga's for next week's game?) Rosenblatt's tight concourses and lack of facilities were obvious with a huge crowd, though lines seemed to move faster than the last Royals game I attended. Go figure.
All in all, it'll be interesting to see how Omaha responds to the Nighthawks going forward. Tickets are reasonable and the competition is pretty good. I have no doubt that the Nighthawks will go as far as the UFL goes; the only question is whether Omaha can pull the entire league up to viability.
Posted by Husker Mike at 11:55 PM